Back Story: During her media and graphic design degree, recent grad Marion Bisserier read an interview with the type designer Susanne Dechant, titled ‘Type Persons Who Happen to Be Female’ in the book Women In Graphic Design (1890-2012). In the interview, Dechant points out that while there is currently an equal number of men and women studying type design at design schools, the representation of women in foundries and typographic conferences remains far lower than that of their male peers. “I was interested in that visibility gap and how visibility plays a crucial role in encouraging more of us to pursue a career in the field,” says Bisserier. “As a response, I decided to address the issue of visibility by designing a typeface which purposely occupies as much positive space as possible and can hardly remain unnoticed.”
In terms of design and form, typefaces that are playful in their use of space became key sources of inspiration for Bisserier, such as Calcula by Shiva Nallaperumal, Fit by David Jonathan Ross, or even Standard by Benoît Bodhuin. Conceptually, Good Girl sits in dialogue with Summer Studio’s Queer Type and the WR+RU’s Pussy Galore, and it’s just been shown as part of the grad show for her former school, London College of Communications.
Why’s it called Good Girl? Because it’s anything but a good girl. Rather, the typeface is loud-mouthed and unafraid to take up space—it gets in the way and demands your attention.
“When I was designing it, my tutor Paul McNeil said to me that type functions a bit like stereotypes,” says Bisserier. “Once you see the letter ’n,’ you expect other letters like ‘h,’ ‘m,’ or ‘r’ to behave similarly in their form. I really liked this idea, so combined it with my aim of deconstructing stereotypes about women in type and what a ‘feminine’ typeface should look like.” So while most letter shapes fit in with what you might expect of their forms, every so often, a detail surprises you, such as the counter of the capital ‘G’, which inserts itself into the letter’s body like a pushy elbow. This tension around formal expectations in typography led to Bisserier’s interest in reclaiming ownership of condescending language—such as the phrase “good girl.”
“The word ‘girl’ is so loaded in its infantilising usage, and at the same time paradoxically as an empowering term that women use for each other,” she says. “So it was the perfect name for this typeface!”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? It’s chunky and bubblegum textured, with faint ’70s undertones. The vertex of the uppercase ‘M’ slouches with unladylike glee, and the arm of the uppercase ‘F’ seems to punch outwards like a boxing glove. Exaggerating the concept of taking up space, Bisserier designed Good Girl so that it has very narrow counters and a huge amount of positive space. “I wanted to approach this topic with fun and humor, so it was also very important for me to not rationalize the design too much,” she says. “That maybe explains the roundedness of the typeface and its occasional quirks in the uppercase ‘G’ or ‘M’.”
What should I use it for? Definitely not for body text—it’s intended for display, so looks best in the form of larger titles or messages. Mixing the three weights together also creates dynamic compositions for posters or magazine covers. “The point of Good Girl isn’t just to make feminist statements,” says Bisserier. “Someone recently suggested that he could see it as numbers on football kits, and I thought that was brilliant.”
What should I pair it with? Perhaps a monospaced font like Lexia Mono by Dalton Maag, or Input Mono. “In general it’s probably best to choose a more subtle typeface that’s not competing too much for attention,” says Bisserier.